March 31, 2009

Idaho Senators Say INL Funding Will Speed Cleanup

DOE allocates $468 million that will create new jobs

Washington, DC - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch helped to secure new federal funding that will create hundreds of new jobs and accelerate cleanup at Department of Energy (DOE) facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory. DOE announced today that Idaho will receive $468 million. Crapo and Risch successfully inserted language calling for the funding into the economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year by Congress.

During negotiations on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Crapo and Risch, in a letter to Senate appropriators, noted the importance of including environmental management cleanup funding in the stimulus plan, notably the job creation potential and environmental improvements. The Idaho funds announced today will be used to retrieve buried waste at the site per the agreement reached between the State of Idaho and DOE last year, demolish out-of-date nuclear and radiological facilities to reduce the site's footprint and relieve the Laboratory of some its cleanup liabilities, which will free up future R&D funding for the Laboratory.

"As the compromise package was put together, we had an opportunity to highlight the value of DOE's Environmental Management program, emphasizing the point that this program has a well-defined scope, complete environmental reviews, and there are contractors in place ready to secure existing jobs and employ new workers," Idaho Senator Mike Crapo said. "This investment will also save the taxpayers billions in future liability costs as the cleanup at Idaho and around the DOE complex is accelerated."

"I am pleased that additional funding has been made available to accelerate the environmental cleanup work at INL that will meet the obligations of the agreement between the State and the DOE," said Idaho Senator Jim Risch. "However, I am concerned with the administration's position on Yucca Mountain and their desire to take the only option off the table before there is a viable alternative for future high level waste disposal from the INL and other facilities."

In a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup session today, Risch discussed his concern about the lack of an alternative to Yucca Mountain. Risch pointed to the contractual agreements the federal government has with the INL and utilities to dispose of high level waste. He said if the administration was taking Yucca Mountain off the table as the repository, an alternative plan is needed before doing so.

The original letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) said that increasing funding at DOE sites by $6 billion would create over 10,000 jobs. The funding would come through existing contracts for cleanup operations, meaning the money, cleanup and job creation could happen quickly.

A copy of the letter is posted here on Crapo's website.